“You First” is the sixth track on Paramore’s 2023 album ‘This Is Why.’ The song tackles conflicting emotions of being the good guy and also the bad guy in different experiences in life. You can’t always be the good guy in everyone’s story all the time.
Paramore returns from a 5-year-old hiatus to bring new music in the form of the ‘This Is Why’ album–the sixth in their discography. Thematically, Paramore attempts to shift towards a more ‘mature’ alt-rock sound with this album, unlike their previous work. On Instagram, Paramore summed up a plethora of emotions they are trying to tackle with this album; “If within the last 5.5 years you’ve felt/experienced sensations of: Agoraphobia, Righteous Rage, Confused About The Difference Between Selfishness and Self-Preservation, Complete and Utter Apathy…” and the list goes on.
Hayley Williams explained the inspiration behind this track with The Line of Best Fit; “You’re somebody’s hero, and they come up to you and tell you about all these things you’ve helped them with, but in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘But I’m an asshole’ about something you did or a mistake you made. Like, this person has no idea, right? But I think that’s just the paradoxical nature of being human.”
Listen to “You First” by Paramore
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Paramore “You First” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
The song addresses the good vs evil dichotomy in every one of us. Instinctively, we all want to be good and act good toward each other. However, how we think we behave toward one person could be interpreted very differently by them. In their books, we could be the bad guy, without even us knowing about it.
Hayley Williams says she feels like the serial killer and the final surviving girl in the typical horror/slasher movie genre. Some situations can make her feel like she is destroying everything and in some instances, she feels as if she is the one who defeats evil. This makes her wonder who she really is?!
Hayley is aware of the devil sitting on her shoulder. She thought she could shake it off, and she even believed it will just drop off when she gets older. However, it did not. And judging by the looks of things, this is exactly not a ‘devil’ making her do evil things. It is more of a guardian or protector from evil outside. And this is a necessary evil to protect yourself. One cannot help if protecting ourselves has a negative effect on another. It could be selfish, but ‘you’ come first. There is no point in letting yourself get hurt just to please someone else.
The singer compares her devil to a stray animal–a little out of control, rabid, and always hungry. Honestly speaking, Hayley hasn’t been trying to get it on a leash either. On occasion, she feeds it by doing all things unholy–gluttony, lust, greed, sorrow, wrath, sloth, vanity, and pride.
In the hook of the song, the singer admits that no one can be 100% good in everyone’s book at all times. Even without trying, they will end up in the evil chapter in someone’s story. But how does one even compare these evils? Who is bad and who is worse? The universe will decide. Karma will serve everyone in equal proportions to their actions–both good and evil.
We should strive to be good and do good at all times. But this should not cost your own health, wealth, happiness, and mental well-being.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.